Google locks Afghan government accounts as taliban seek emails


Image courtesy: Reuters

According to a source familiar with the situation, Google has temporarily blocked an undetermined number of Afghan government email accounts as concerns rise over the digital paper trail left by previous officials and their international allies.

Reports in the weeks following the Taliban’s quick takeover of Afghanistan from a US-backed government have highlighted how the new rulers may use biometric databases to track out their adversaries.

Alphabet’s Google stopped short of admitting that Afghan government accounts were being shut down in a statement issued on Friday, instead stating that the company was watching the situation in Afghanistan and “taking temporary measures to safeguard relevant accounts.”

According to one former government employee, the Taliban are attempting to get former officials’ emails.Late last month, the employee stated that the Taliban had ordered him to keep the data stored on the systems of the ministry for which he previously worked.

“If I do so, they will have access to the former ministry leadership’s data and official conversations,” the employee explained. “It would provide a plethora of information,” said Chad Anderson, a security researcher at internet intelligence firm DomainTools who assisted Reuters in determining which ministries used which email platform. “Having an employee roster on a Google Sheet is a major concern,” he added, citing tales of rogue employees.

According to one former government employee, the Taliban are seMicrosoft declined to comment. Anderson believes the Taliban’s ambition to dominate US-built digital infrastructure is worth monitoring. He stated that intelligence derived from that infrastructure “may be considerably more important to a nascent administration than outdated helicopters.”


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